Phnom Penh Crown went down to their first defeat of their pre-season programme, losing 3-1 against an African All Stars XI this afternoon at Crown's Tuol Kork training ground. It wasn't a game for the faint-hearted with ten bookings and a red card and with the all-African team offering stern opposition, it was a good workout for the Crown squad, just ahead of their match against the Cambodian national team and a week-long training camp in Vietnam. Crown coach Bojan Hodak left his two Nigerian imports on the touchline and began with an all-Khmer line-up against their African opponents who boasted amongst their ranks the likes of former Crown striker Olisa Onyemerea, BBU's Nelson Oladiji, Dennis Nwaizu (Prek Pra), Anthony Nzekwest (Preah Khan) and Khemara's Peter Olajide. The match began at a frenetic pace and Hong Ratana and Phoung Narong went close for Crown, whilst an extraordinary long throw-in by the Africans caused consternation in the Crown back-line. Onyemerea struck a 20-yard drive that ricocheted off bar and post to give notice of his intent and on 26 minutes he gave his side the lead when his high cross-shot was helped into his own net by Crown keeper Hong Visokra. On the half-hour, Crown spurned the opportunity to level when Thul Sothearith's weakly-struck penalty was pushed out by the opposition keeper, who'd been booked for a fly-hack on Kouch Sokumpheak as he broke through. A few minutes later the referee looked the other way when Sokumpheak had his legs taken away a second time. Five minutes before the break, Onyemerea held off the challenge of Sothearith and fired a ferocious drive past Visokra from a ridiculous angle to give the All Stars a two-goal half-time lead, though there was still time for Sokumpheak to be denied again when his shot was saved by the keeper's outstretched leg.
Visokra pulled off a fine one-handed stop to deny Onyemerea as he tried his luck from long range again, before Crown reduced the arrears two minutes after the hour. Sun Sopanha chipped a pass over the top and Hong Ratana turned quickly, spotted the keeper off his line and finished with a sublime chip. Substitute Kingsley Njoku sent a powerful header fizzing just wide and Ratana rose above the keeper to send his header the wrong side of the upright as Crown pressed. But the All Stars reacted quickly as Crown reorganized after another substitution and Nelson Oladiji broke clear to slip their third goal under Visokra on 75 minutes. Crown didn't fold and Njoku had an effort cleared off the line, Chan Chaya's break into the box was thwarted by the keeper again whilst their final chance saw Odion Obadin strike a rising shot against the crossbar. In the final seconds, the All Stars went down to ten-men with a second yellow card followed by a red, but the victory was already theirs.
PPCFC line-up: Visokra, Sopanha, Vanthan, Tiny, Sothearith (Obadin 66), Narong (Sovan 45), Narith (Sophat 78), Virath (Rathanak 45), Ratana (Borey 74), Pheng (Chaya 45), Sokumpheak (Njoku 66). Subs not used: Bunna, Dara.
Crown keeper Peng Bunchhay and wideman Suong Virak are with the Pannasastra University team in Chiang Mai, Thailand who are playing in the 15th Asean University Games from 14-23 December. Last week the University team, who are representing Cambodia, defeated the Cambodian national team 2-0 in a midweek friendly warm-up game.